“The herbivores created space for other plants and animals to move in and we saw much more diversity and variety in these ecosystems,” said Rebecca Kordas, the lead author of the study who completed this research as a PhD student in zoology at UBC. “We want variety because we found it helps protect the ecosystem when you add a stressor like heat.”
For this study, Kordas, who is now a research fellow at Imperial College London, and her colleagues created mini-marine ecosystems on the shore of Ruckle Park on British Columbia’s Salt Spring Island. The mini ecosystems were built on hard plastic plates that allowed researchers to control the temperatures. Some of the plates allowed voracious herbivores called limpets in, and some kept them out. Limpets are like snails, but with a cone-shaped shell.
Photo: Robert Bonde/ USGS/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)